Shrouded as they were in questions of economic turmoil, the spring/summer ’10 Milan menswear shows had a mysterious aura surrounding them. This season’s collections were a melange of emotions, ranging from the minimalist to the avant-garde, but overall seemed to exhibit a return to playfulness.
As usual, Christopher Bailey’s Burberry Prorsum collection epitomized English gentlemen versatility—with a modern twist. The collection’s effortlessly chic tone featured eager colors, classic sweaters, lightweight wool pants, buttery brown leather boots and accented accessories such as canvas work bags, some of which hinted at a bondage tone. With an emphasis on wearability—excepting a white-based leopard-themed number—Bailey succeeded yet again in reinterpreting modern classics with design aesthetics that focus on overall comfort.
The decadence found on the Gucci runway, meanwhile, demonstrated what sets Frida Giannini’s vision apart from her colleagues. The runway was full of white, texturized suits—often showing exposed ankles—which were chicly accompanied by hints of color such as yellow, royal blue and husky orange. The white attire gave way to an emphasis on navy in the rest of the collection, and the show-stopper was an ultra chic evening-wear inspired navy suit with a fine masculine shine.
At Missoni, classic zigzags were out in full force in muddy, neutral tones mixed with large plaids, breezy jackets and scruffy, oversized shoes. The overall look was unforced, as if the clothes were just thrown on, layered effortlessly with pieces appearing to have been taken from a grandfather’s closet. With her latest collection, Angela Missoni managed to weave together the tattered and the urbane, a look that appeared unpolished yet was every bit sophisticated.
Thom Browne for Moncler Gamme Bleu created a phenomenal spectacle at the famed Piscina Cozzi—which was, as always, sports themed. Pieces influenced by tennis, swimming, surfing and sailing progressed down the runway with a focused color palette amid the rain hats, beach flip-flops and ultra-cool sunglasses. The accessories were quirkily paired with lightweight summer wool, seersucker elements and madras with pristine cotton piqué.
Jil Sander’s collection took a different approach entirely. Under the helm of Raf Simons, the s/s ’10 collection was the definition of minimalism with a palette consisting predominantly of white and subtle hints of pastels. Like Gucci, Simons additionally toyed with a navy palette, which worked in his favor—an asset that was not mirrored in the otherwise barren collection of neutral tones, portrait-like prints on gauzy cardigans and not-quite-there classics. One dramatic touch, however, was Simons homage to Japanese artist Tsugoharu Foujita in both his pieces and the backdrop of the catwalk.
The ever playful brothers behind DSquared2, Dean and Dan Caten, seemed to be having the most fun of everyone. A camping scene set the stage with a soundtrack profiling some of Canada’s key musical talents, and the duo’s signature baseball caps with buttons and patches were all over the runway (often paired with plaid and distressed denim). Though not striking out from the label’s typical aesthetic, the s/s ’10 line was nonetheless enjoyably tongue-in-cheek, especially with the help of a blue-toned army coverall rain-jacket that managed to stand out amid the plethora of plaid and denim jackets.
Dolce & Gabbana’s collection was Milanese in every sense of the word. The runway was rife with dapper suits, black beaded embroidery, silk black bowties and loose fitting tuxedo pants. While one ridiculous heavily embroidered robe made an appearance, the collection was definitely for the recession-proof male who isn’t afraid to take chances with the game of fashion. The rest of the collection featured a nice balance of grunge-tinged distressed denim, as well as the usual homage to an influential cultural icon—this year, Marlon Brando’s unforgettable mug was splashed across a form-fitting tank.
Calvin Klein’s master of masculine cool, Italo Zucchelli, offered subtle hints of perforation (as seen throughout Prada’s grey outing), which matched the perfect unison of black short sleeved polos and thick cuffed above-the-knee ankle shorts. His salt and pepper grey shorts could easily move from a daytime look to an evening staple, given a careful change of accessories. Sheer, almost see-through fabrics played a key role in breezy jackets, while taupe and light beige tones were touched upon in casual t-shirts and ties.
At John Varvatos, wearability and form-fitting lines similarly dominated the catwalk, which set up a stark contrast with the silhouettes found at Bottega Veneta. While Varvatos was extremely structured and form hugging, Veneta toyed with a baggier fit of pants with elasticized ankles. Even so, taupe dominated these two different—yet subtly similar—collections.
With the Milan shows under wraps and facing a multitude of reviews, we still have to wait for the Paris collections to get a cohesive sense of the s/s ’10 collections. So far, we have been pleasantly faced with bold patterns, masculine-cool wearable garments and a liberal dose of color. It appears the “fun factor” has been thankfully returned to the male fashion world.